Friday, January 20, 2012

Dollars and Sense

Money, money, money, mola, dinero, bank, greenbacks...all of which grow wings and flutter out of my wallet the second my arse steps over the grocery store threshold.

Cha-fuckin-ching, says the cash register.

At some point I'll be adept at handling coupons and shopping sales, etc. (not holding my breath though)

But first things first:  What is a 'good' price?

I ask this because, when shopping sales, it would seem that the 'good-stock-up-now' price would be a buy one/get one free sort of deal. But, is it STILL a good deal when it seems as if the grocery store has jacked up the 'original' price to make the BYGO seem even better?

Really, I do believe they do it! I buy bacon somewhat regularly and when it goes on BYGO the price is suddenly $7.99, when just recently I bought it for much...MUCH...less, even at the non-sale price. And yes, that is the BETTER bacon, thicker center cut and all that hoopla.

Same holds true for many other grocery items.

Here is the clincher though - I'm not entirely SURE I'm right. Because....

Because, I don't remember nor do I pay attention to the prices much. I buy what I like and/or need. I'm not that brand loyal, I shop the best price...usually. But when it comes to searching the weekly ads and exclaiming, "Hot damn that's a good price for Such&Such, I need to stock up!"...I just can't, 'cause I just don't know!

There are 5 different grocery fliers that come to my house, so who's right? Who is the cheapest?

There are some things I pay more money for - humanely raised meat, dairy products and eggs. I'm not compromising.

So what's a gal to do in order to wade through the muck of flashy ads and Trixie grocery stores that are out to make a buck off me? (and that is their business, so I am OK with it...I just don't want them taking any more than I deem necessary)

I thought of creating a spreadsheet of the most commonly used items and gather the fluctuating prices to gleam the average, as well as the 'sale' prices to really know when it is low, low, low.

Is that too much work?  Am I over thinking this? 

I don't want to become obsessed, but I do want to know whether buying the bulk box of canned tomatoes from Costco is ultimately cheaper than a good sale at Safeway (or whatever grocery store). If I use oodles of an item, I want to know when to pounce on that sale - whether I 'coupon' or not...because I've decided that my heart isn't in the couponing thing. Too much work for my fickle brain.

But...averaging out prices, deciding when it is best to buy...THAT I might be able to do. for my super smart readers to weigh in. Putting the idea of couponing aside, do you have a system for tracking prices (sale and non-sale) and then knowing when it's good or when it's misleading (intentionally or not)?

I am off to the grocery store, but will be hoarding my receipts in anticipation of your replies.



  1. Anonymous12:25 PM

    No system at all. I do have a somewhat freakish memory so I'm aware of what I normally pay for an item. I do stand at the shelves doing the math--sometimes 2 of the smaller size of something is a better bargain than 1 big one, sometimes it isn't. I do get a thrill from using a coupon on something that's already on sale, I admit it.

    A. stands for you-know-who

  2. I never knew what my buy price should be -- now I am much much better.

    What helps is coupon bloggers who know what the best deals are and will tell you.... I need to find you a good coupon blogger for your area. Hang on, I'll work on that.

  3. A - Coupons are in my future, as soon as I can figure out how to get them cheap (as in not getting the newspaper to do it). They've rarely had coupons for the food items I buy, since I don't buy many prepared foods...but occasionally there is something I can use (especially personal items).

    Denise - Thank you! It sure does help having someone local(ish), since each area has it's own pricing structure. I know that San Jose (CA in general) isn't THE most expensive, but it sure ranks up there!

  4. I'm Canadian so whenever I go to the states I'm in little piggy heaven because some things are less expensive especially wine ;)

    Did you check-out Denise's coupon series she did last year? She has tons of really good tips to get you pointed in the right direction.

  5. I generally shop at one store. I know they have the best deals, and I know they have the best products. And I agree, most places do jack the price of things when they are going to BOGO.

  6. Anonymous10:15 AM

    i got nutin
    luv u Auntie V

  7. I don't use coupons. I forget about them - even the good ones I can use. It's very sad actually.

    But, on the items I use all the time, I know the regular prices, know when the prices have gone up, know when a sale is a good one and when they are being lying-doody heads. But only on stuff I use all the time. The rest of the time, I'm clueless.

  8. I so relate to your post. Like Jane, I have trouble remembering coupons. Like Layne, I tend to shop the same store, and I remember prices on "my" items, not exactly, but close enough. I look at unit prices to see if buying a larger or smaller size is less expensive. I always shop the specials, and work menus around those items. I know that certain items come up on special almost every month, so when it goes on sale I stock up on a month's supply. My store does inflate prices on the BOGOs, but still the price comes out lower than it would be without the special.

    Going to the grocery store gives me sticker shock! Right now I'm on a campaign to use up the staples in my cabinets and the freezer. Only buying some produce and other perishables. Seems the only way I can save a little money is to stay OUT of the store!

  9. I agree, Melanie. Groceries are ridiculously expensive! But everything is, I guess.